Top Post of May 2014

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In case you missed them, here are the top posts for the last month:

  1. 10 Books Every Christian Leader Should Read
  2. Why Missional Communities Should Take a Summer Break
  3. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  4. Why You Aren’t a Leader
  5. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  6. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
  7. Pick a Church
  8. 10 Lessons for the Church from Pixar
  9. Remove Barriers to What is Most Important
  10. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse

My blog will be moving in a few weeks and I don’t want you to miss anything. Simply click here to subscribe via email so that I can serve you better and continue to help you grow to become who God created you to be.

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Celebrate Small Wins

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Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. Next you need to handle leaders who do not get on board in a loving way, how leaders lead by example in showing a church what is most important and how a leaders shoots themselves in the foot by having too many options. Finally, when making any change a leader must learn how to grieve losses personally and help others grieve losses.

The last thing to keep a transition moving is to celebrate wins, no matter how small.

You may be great at celebrating things, but most pastors I meet, they are terrible at celebrating things. Part of it is personality, part of it is that they are trained to look for things that are broken and fix them, so they tend to focus on the negative. Many of them are big picture thinkers so they struggle to see how small things add up to big things, they are only looking for the life changing, new church, huge growth instead of the small, everyday life change.

If you don’t learn how to celebrate small wins, you will burnout and miss what God is doing. Your church will also wonder if it is winning.

One of the benefits to using the umbrella of discipleship as the win for your church and MC’s is that almost anything can be a win. That is a good thing. I also think that is how God wants the church to be. Baptism, people taking the step of following Jesus are win’s. But so is someone joining an MC, giving for the first time, reading their bible for the first time, sharing their story at MC, letting someone serve them when they have a need, serving someone when they have a need. All of those are wins because all of those steps are people taking steps to be more like Jesus.

To make any successful change, celebrate any win possible. To keep your church moving forward, having momentum, look for anything to celebrate and share it. Always point out to your people, we are winning, we are moving forward.

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Leaders Lead by Example

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Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. At this point, step 3 happens (though it is often skipped or a leader pushes through it) and that is to handle leaders who do not get on board in a loving way.

Consider this conversation I have on a regular basis as to why this step is important. The pastor or leader in charge of small groups or MC’s will call me and say, “I can’t get people in my church to get into a group or an MC.” They share their frustration and how hard they have worked and all the ways they have tried to motivate their church and nothing happens. The question I ask them after they share their story is one I know the answer to or else they wouldn’t be calling me.

It is this: is your lead pastor and elders leading an MC or in one?

The answer is always no.

This is a requirement for us at Revolution: an elder or pastor must be leading a missional community.

This doesn’t have to be the case at every church, but if you want people in your church to know something is a priority, leaders lead by example.

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How to Handle Someone who is Not on Board with a Change

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Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board.

The moment you begin to get essential leaders on board with any change or transition is the point of no return for a leader, they have now gone public.

I would say this is one of the most crucial moments of a change because of this. It is also when leaders derail themselves without realizing it and it is because they don’t handle someone who is not on board correctly. 

Think of this scenario: a leader has spent weeks, months and some times years thinking about a vision or a dream, a way forward. They begin sharing this dream with leaders and decision makers. Most people are excited because they love the leader or the direction or both.

Then, something happens: they meet someone who is not excited.

They ask questions, give pushback and generally do not seem excited about what the leader is proposing. The leader, because they are the leader starts to get defensive, pushes back even harder and both people sit across the table and dig their heels in.

Who is right in this situation?

Possibly both people.

Leaders will look at this person, whether they met in person or heard through the grapevine that someone isn’t on board and they will see a person who is being divisive or not submitting to authority.

Leaders forget that they have had the opportunity to process a change of direction or new initiative or ministry for a long time, this person just heard about it and has not had as long. It isn’t that they aren’t supportive, wanting to be on mission or not submitting, they are just reacting to a change and almost always are first reaction to a change is to be defensive.

If the leader fails here, most changes get derailed. For the simple reason that the person who seems unsupportive usually wields greater influence than the leader.

As a leader, here are some ways to handle this person:

  1. Stay humble. Do you need this person to make this change? Who knows. But God has placed you as the leader to shepherd this person through this change, so care for them. Stay humble, otherwise, God will oppose you and that will be worse than this person opposing you.
  2. Ask questions. Ask what their fears are, why aren’t they excited about this. Often, it is the loss of something that makes us defensive about a change, not because we don’t love the possibilities of something new, it is that we are mourning what we are losing.
  3. Listen. Don’t get defensive or seek to win. 
  4. Have resources for them to listen to or read. Have something to give them. Pick the thing that pushed you over the edge, the most influential piece to give to them and say, “This helped me. Before you decide, would you listen to this or read this and consider the possibilities?”
  5. Ask them to pray about it. They may or may not actually pray about it, but ask them to. If they do, give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do what only the Holy Spirit can do, change them.

In the end, if God wants whatever change you are making to come to pass, it will. The person who seems the most against something at the beginning can often be the biggest supporter of it by the end if they are led well.

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How to Get Essential Leaders on Board with Change

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Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. This is simple change theory and applies to any change a leader is thinking about making, but it is incredibly important as we talk about transitioning a church from small groups to missional communities.

The reason is: groups and MC’s are so different that it will change everything about your church. It is not simply adding “missional” to your church, but changes everything. 

When you make any change or transition you need to be able to answer these questions: Who needs to know? When do they need to know it?

A few other things to ask: What leaders will be the most crucial to making this transition happen? Who are the people in this church (leadership by title or leadership by influence) who can keep this transition from happening that I need to get on board early?

Too many leaders when they make a change think they can bulldoze through it because “they’ve heard from God” or “are the leader.”

When we transitioned from groups to MC’s, we made a list of everyone we thought who could be an MC leader and I met with them to cast the vision, invite them into the process and join in being a part of this. By the time we announced the change to our church, almost 30% of our church knew about the change, why we were making it and were on board with it.

This is the moment the change becomes real because you invite people into it. 

Up until this moment, the change or transition is simply a dream, a hope, a prayer in your mind. This moment is when you put the flag in the ground and bring others into it.

To get the leaders on board that you need, you will have to make sure the change is clear, thought out and you can answer questions.

In short: be as clear as possible. 

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Always Start with Why

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Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities. A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.

The first step to transitioning a church from small groups to MC’s is why do it. I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why. In it, he makes the case that any church, organization or movement can answer why they do something.

If you are going to make any changes, you must be able to answer:

  1. Why are we making this change?
  2. What will we get by making this change?
  3. Why do we have to make this change?

In the church world, MC’s are the thing to do. They are hip and cool and the new church planters are doing it. All the mega-churches are transitioning to them. It is what you do if you are a smart pastor.

I met several people at Exponential who told me that was why they were doing MC’s.

That isn’t compelling. No one in your church cares about MC’s, unless you tell them why. And hearing about it at a conference or reading a book isn’t good enough.

When we started MC’s at Revolution, they were very focused on mission and social justice. Discipleship was not the goal of them. As we’ve grown in our knowledge of what God has called us to, discipleship is the obvious goal of the church and Christians (Matthew 28:18 – 20). Mission, serving together, community, praying together, eating together, walking with each other through hard times and celebrations is all part of discipleship.

Discipleship is the umbrella of missional communities, it is what everything points to.

Once this is clear it helps to answer everything else about missional communities and are church. Things like: what do MC’s do when they meet, what is the point of serving, eating together, how do we evaluate the health of an MC or MC leader?

While an MC lives out the identities of a servant, leader, family and missionary, those are all fuel for discipleship. Discipleship happens while we do those things.

Until this is clear, until the why is clear, until the win is clear, a church and missional communities will struggle to stay focused. They will easily become a family that never allows anyone else to join or they will serve and focus solely on social justice and reaching out to those in need without ever sharing the gospel with them.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Philip Nation on How we do email completely wrong.

Email is a normal part of my everyday life. It is for many of us. It is a tool that can be a huge help. But, if executed poorly, email is a great weight dragging you to the depths of productivity oblivion. The reason is summarized by a great observation that my friend and LifeWay colleague Brian Daniels has made, “Anyone with an email account is your boss.” It would be funny if it were not true.

10 things you could’ve done this morning if you had gotten up early.

You were going to get up early today. Instead, you stayed up late last night. Now, after resetting your alarm twice, you are rushing to get out the door. What could you have done if you had gotten up early today?

Ryan Kearns on 4 ways small groups can work with the sermon (this is why our MC’s study the sermon).

Ministry is really hard. But sometimes we make it harder on ourselves by not having our core ministries working together. A preaching pastor can find himself wishing for a deeper impact and application of his sermon than just what happens on Sunday morning. On the other side, a community group leader can suffer from a lack of focus and direction and bear the constant weight of preparing multiple curriculums.

Carlos Whittaker on How to avoid the monday morning hangover for church staff.

5 ways to stay productive if you work from home.

The work from home lifestyle is certainly not for everyone (especially those that thrive on day to day interactions with coworkers), but if you have a job where working remotely is an option, here are some tips for keeping you productive and happy.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Serving Like Jesus

Made for Glory

All of us want our lives to matter. No one wants to go through life unnoticed and not be remembered.

The problem in our culture is that we often have the wrong idea about how to live a great life, to be noticed and remembered.

We want to get to the top instead of being left at the bottom. We want to be the most important, the guest of honor instead the one serving in the background.

For Jesus, greatness is upside down from how we often think of it.

This Sunday at Revolution Church we’ll uncover the glory we were made for and how to get there. The answer is through serving like Jesus. 

I’m excited because we will have a special guest preacher, Seth McBee. Seth is an entrepreneur, an author, a church planter, president of McBee Advisors, Inc as well as a missional community leader/trainer/coach and executive team member of the GCM Collective.

This is an important Sunday at Revolution if you’ve felt like your life should be more than it is or if you’ve wondered how to make an impact in the people around you. 

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

Be Simple

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Revolution is going to turn 5 years old this Sunday. It is really hard to believe that the church God birthed in me 13 years ago while living in Chicago actually came to be with 11 people who prayed and dreamed together in Tucson, AZ. Over the coming week as we gear up towards Sunday I thought I’d share some of the dreams that drove us to start Revolution and still drive us to this day.

On Monday, we looked at our dream of helping people become who they were created to be. On Tuesday, we looked at how to help people take their next step with Jesus and why that is so important. Yesterday we looked at our target, what we call: Get the men, win the war. Today I want to talk about something I mentioned yesterday but is critical to who we are as a church and I believe, why we are effective. And that is be simple. 

One of my first jobs was on staff as a student pastor at a church in Wisconsin. It was a church of 1500 people and I remember sitting in a meeting soon after I took the job and the Executive Pastor with a huge smile on his face said, “A family could be at our church 7 nights a week.” No one said anything. Finally I asked, “Is that good?” You would have thought I just questioned an agreed upon theological stance. I got looks that said, “Are you crazy? How do you not see how great that is?”

I then read in a book about the difference between the home pages of google and yahoo. Did you know that each month 88 billion searches are done on google and 9.4 billion are done on Yahoo? Think about the difference of their pages and how crowded yahoo is compared to google. One is simple, one is cluttered and busy. One helps you accomplish what you need, the other makes you guess as to what is important.

In America, there is a desire many churches have to make sure you never have to go anywhere for anything else. We have coffee shops, bookstores, sports leagues for kids, sports leagues for adults, groups for every need imaginable. Now, I’m not saying any of these things are bad or wrong. What I am saying is that by having as many ministries and programs as the average church has, we make sure none of our people have time to hang out with people who don’t know Jesus. If you are at church 3-4 nights a week, when will you spend time with your neighbor or co-worker who doesn’t know Jesus? Probably never.

To accomplish the goal of helping our people live on mission, we have intentionally chosen to be simple. To do two things as a church: A worship gathering and missional communities. Often in churches, people aren’t sure what is the most important thing. Should they join a class, a men’s group, a women’s group, a small group. We took the guessing out of it and said, we want you to do two things. And if you do these two things, we believe you will take the next steps in your relationship with Jesus.

This also helps families not overload their schedule with things so they can have family nights, date nights and family dinner together and do family devotions together. This also helps people to be on mission in their neighborhoods or workplaces. It also clarifies for our church what the win is. Everyone knows what the most important things are at Revolution because we only have two things.